cover image Cruel Intent

Cruel Intent

J. A. Jance, . . Touchstone, $25.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-6379-2

As if remodeling an old mansion near picturesque Sedona, Ariz., isn't stress enough for Ali Reynolds, the plucky former TV newscaster must also deal with cybernetic lonely hearts, frustrated lust and murder in bestseller Jance's uneven fourth Ali Reynolds thriller (after Hand of Evil ). After serial killer Peter Winter claims his fifth victim, who happens to be the unfaithful wife of Ali's contractor, Bryan Forester, homicide detective Dave Holman suspects Bryan did it. At considerable personal risk, Ali has to clear Bryan in order to get her house ready for Thanksgiving dinner with her gossipy, meddling mother, Edie; her son, Chris; Chris's amputee fiancée; sometime boyfriend Holman; and the rest of her cozily predictable entourage. A too conveniently noted license plate number and some unlikely Taser-wielding by Edie undermine credibility. Still, Jance's trademark breathless pace compensates for stale situations and shallow characterizations. Author tour. (Dec.)